Silver Fillings - Amalgam

Fillings are the most common type of 'restorative treatment'. A filling replaces the part of the tooth that has been lost either because decay has caused a cavity in the tooth or because the tooth has broken. One option in restoring the tooth is to have an Amalgam filling however with high quality tooth coloured fillings available, amalgam usage is now declining.

  • Amalgam - Sometimes referred to as a silver filling. This is an alloy which is made up using Mercury, Silver, Tin, Copper and Zinc.
  • It is extremely durable and able to withstand the grinding and chewing of the molar teeth over long periods of time.
  • They are less expensive than white fillings

The disadvantages

  • They look unattractive in the tooth due to its colour.
  • Some people are concerned about the mercury content; please discuss this with your dentist.
  • Amalgam expands and contracts with temperature which can weaken the remaining tooth.
  • The colouring leaches into the dentinal tubules inside the tooth, leaving a permanent blue-gray halo that bleaching cannot remove.

The Procedure

  • A local anaesthetic will be given to numb the tooth and the surrounding tissue.
  • The tooth will be thoroughly cleaned. All decay, food debris or tartar will be removed. The tooth will then be shaped to accept the amalgam  by mechanical retention rather than being bonded or cemented.
  • Depending on the size of the filling, a band may be placed around the tooth which helps to hold the filling material in place whilst it is being packed into the tooth.
  • The Amalgam is packed into the tooth, then carved in to the correct shape.

Although amalgam hardens within a few minutes, it takes 24 hours for it to set fully.